It hit me today. I’m one of “Those People”. This wasn’t the first time I’ve come to this conclusion, but today it hit me differently than it has before. Call it maturity. Call it becoming a bigger person. However you look at it, I know now that I am without a doubt one of “Those People”, and I am very much ok with that.
Let me explain what I’m talking about. By “Those People” I’m talking about those disabled people who willingly engage in conversation about disability in the hope of getting their opinions and stances to be understood by a non disabled person *for me this largely means non disabled friends and family, with the occasional unassuming stranger here and there*.
Often, I even turn totally unrelated conversation topics to focusing on disability. It’s a habit. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s what I do. I used to think this was a bad thing. I’ve been part of enough conversations where I threw disability into the mix and watched the other person just tune out. They completely lost interest so the whole conversation died. These interactions always made me wish I wasn’t so ready to interject with disabilities focused conversation. But I knew I probably couldn’t ever do that.
So I’ve continued, sometimes clumsily, to continue to try to make these connections and have conversations about disability, hopefully giving people a small insight into issues that they’d likely never thought about before. I’ve been somewhat successful at this I think. I attribute this to being surrounded by people who help me to better form my opinions and more clearly express them. Something else I have to thank is the fact that, by and large, I’ve met with very little negative push back for my opinions.
I do not, I’ve come to realize, face nearly as much of the vitriol and venom that many of the people I admire who do this kind of activism and advocacy come in contact with. This has had positive and negative effects. Positively, I do not have the same level of fall-out from emotional labor. Negatively, I probably have not grown the level of thick skin that I need to do more of this work. Regardless I remain grateful for the interactions that I’ve had and the minds I may have changed, or at least educated, on the topic of disability. And I’m excited to keep going on this path and be one of “Those People”.